There was never a time when we were without cameras, and pictures. Early on we were burning up a small treasure trove of film that I was given by another artist who’d gone to digital. Her generosity kept us (Rx & I) in photos for a good three months, and crucially, the first three months of our time together.
These are certainly the first time Roxanne and I shot with instant media, and with the monorail view camera (which is a slow beast even compared to the all-manual C330 seen beside her on the couch). She had shot 35mm before, on a camera that we still have, but had not gotten into medium format film until she wrapped her hands around the Mamiya’s solid frame and looked at the image left-to-right reversed on the ground glass.
I was in the last semester of my undergraduate studies, and had never owned a medium format camera. The one in the picture with her was a darkroom loaner from the photo department there at the UofA. How lucky were we, even before we had known what our needs might have been, to have them met, the tools we needed were at our fingertips, and our union consecrated by a shower of photographic love.
I remember I called in sick to work so that I could stay home a few days longer, and in that first week of our lives melding the days were like marathons of photography, love-making, great coffee, and home cooked meals . I don’t think we went further than the front or back yard more than once in the first 120 hours of our life together. Actually, I know that we only left the house one time … it was to go to a coffee shop, and we have pictures there too.
These particular shots came from a pack of very expired Polaroid Type 669 that I was shooting with my view camera. Both of us were trying something new – me shooting outside the studio, earnestly working for something alive in the image that I’d never tried for before. Roxanne was slipping the frame of being the model for someone who’s shooting her, and moving into just being – just being herself – with the person who’s operating the camera. We did not know it, nor could we have, but each of our prior ways of thinking about photography, the making of and the being in, were about to undergo radical reconstructions. I was working in a way totally foreign to what I had done before (studio, props, artificial lighting, and the subject matter was radically altered as well), and for the first time I was now also the subject of the photographer, as Roxanne did not come to me as a model, but as a counterpart. Where I was technical, she was intuitive, where I measured she approximated. She brought strength and poise, and a kinesthetic awareness of elegance while in the frame that I had only glimpsed fleetingly, and grasped at vainly from behind the camera. These were her lessons for me, being relaxed, not posing, keeping the gestures and the body natural, as they are in our day to day. Just as importantly – to look as good as you can while holding yourself open and vulnerable to the scrutiny of the photographer and the enduring stare of the photograph. She was to teach me about being in the picture, and I to share with her what I’d learned about making them.
Our photographic worlds were to collide and merge. These photos were literally taken the day that transformation (along with so many others that single people undergo when they finally meet their match and become a pair) began to unfold.
The amazing thing . . . here we are in 2012, and rather than feeling like the process has ended, it feels more like we’ve been organized into one organism, and that our interactions with each other are tightly knit, more symbiotic, than ever before.
Here’s to rejoicing in that, this … married, photographic life.